Minus Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, Ji Sung Park, and Patrice Evra. All key players. Which should bolster CSKA's chances.
But the one adage after all these years - you count out Man Utd at your own peril. And Juande Ramos will do well to heed this advice. By the way, Ramos has been busy with extracurricular activities, including writing a non-fiction piece aimed at business executives. He will present a signed copy to Sir Alex which the Man Utd manager can peruse on the way home. I wonder if Daniel Levy and Florentino Perez are going to be recipients too.
The backdrop to all this is Sir Alex's storming out of the press conference when he refused to be drawn into questions Alan Wiley. A potential five match touchline ban is a sensitive issue.
But apart from the weighty Wiley issue, he is also be concerned about Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic's drop off in performance. To make it more intriguing Jonny Evans will probably start seeing more playing minutes and could pair up either of the two in the central partnership. It makes sense as Rio slows down as a consequence of injuries and age.
The trip to CSKA also serves another purpose, monitoring Russian players who are now hot commodities. Sir Alex has his eye on 23 year old goalie Igor Akinfeev compared favourably to Lev Yashin as a replacement for Edwin Van Der Saar.